Minutes after he was knocked out by Kelly Pavlik in one of the year's best fights on Sept. 29, Jermain Taylor said he wanted a rematch.
Three weeks later, nothing has changed.
And so, sometime in early 2008, Pavlik and Taylor will meet in a rematch of a bout that is a contender for the 2007 Fight of the Year, in which Pavlik lifted the WBC and WBO middleweight belts from Taylor with a seventh-round knockout.
Taylor by contract had the right to exercise a rematch clause within 30 days. On Tuesday, he informed promoter Lou DiBella of his intention to do so.
"I'm not going to b.s. you and say Jermain made this decision because it is right for boxing, because he made this decision for the reason that it is right for himself," DiBella said. "But the collateral benefit of this is that it's also right for boxing.
"There were 2 million-something homes that bought (Oscar) De La Hoya-(Floyd) Mayweather (on pay-per-view). But there was no comparison between what those people saw and what the people who watched Taylor-Pavlik I saw. Kelly and Jermain produced fireworks from beginning until I ended and when you were watching, you had the sense that at any time, either of them could end it."
Pavlik promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank had hoped to match Pavlik with John Duddy, an Irishman who has an extraordinarily large following in the New York metropolitan area, at Madison Square Garden in January, and then face Taylor in a rematch in the summer at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
He said that now that Taylor has exercised the rematch clause, he's going to try to make a Pavlik match with light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins for Browns Stadium in the summer should Pavlik defeat Taylor again.
Hopkins, the long-time middleweight champion, can no longer make 160 pounds, Arum said, so if a Hopkins-Pavlik fight occurs, it would be contested at a catch weight somewhere in the mid-to-high 160s.
"From my standpoint, I thought an interim fight (for Pavlik) made more sense and then to go into the rematch, but Jermain had the right to ask for the immediate rematch and he has," Arum said. "The benefit for us is, we can go out and try to make an even bigger pay-per-view fight for June with Bernard.
"If Kelly comes out of it OK, then a fight with Hopkins at Cleveland Browns Stadium would be even bigger than a fight with Jermain."
DiBella was involved in promoting the trilogy between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, two of which were named Fight of the Year, but said he's gotten more response from fans about the Taylor-Pavlik fight than he had about any of the Gatti-Ward bouts.
The fight captured the public's imagination because of the ferocity of the action, DiBella said.
"When you have a fight with all the hype that surrounded Taylor-Pavlik I, it's rare that it meets expectations, but you know what? Everyone will agree with me when I say this, but this fight exceeded expectations," DiBella said. "A lot of people saw it. The fight was seen in about 2.1 million homes live, and it was replayed a number of times. Either live on HBO or on HBO On Demand or on a replay, about 3 million homes saw that fight and those are all people you know want to see the rematch.
"Both of these kids have the kind of style where you know, if they fought 10 times, there couldn't be a bad fight between them and their worst would be better than most."
- Kelly Pavlik
- Jermain Taylor
- Lou DiBella
- Bernard Hopkins